Editor’s comment: Great to see kids oppose school run

Pupil from Torriano Primary walked to school on Clear Air day. Picture: CAMDEN COUNCIL

Pupil from Torriano Primary walked to school on Clear Air day. Picture: CAMDEN COUNCIL - Credit: Camden Council

What a delight to see primary school children setting an example and asking adults to walk rather than driving.

The school run is outdated. It deprives kids of exercise and fresh air (and it would be a lot fresher without all the cars). It isolates children from their friends and the social benefit of walking, riding or getting public transport in a group, which also teaches them life skills. It exposes them to bad behaviour: we all get frustrated on the roads, and that shows children short tempers, rudeness and even dangerous driving are acceptable. It adds to traffic, which makes the streets more dangerous for everyone, especially youngsters. And it pumps toxic fumes into our air. Children in London have lower lung capacities than their parents did. What have they done to deserve that?

Yes, there are people with a genuine need to drive. They should be free to do so without fear of judgement, or traffic jams, or crippling charges. But for most of us, cars are an unnecessary luxury.

Some significant interests to declare here: I can’t drive, I cycle to work, and conveniently I don’t have kids. And of course it isn’t helpful to point the finger at hardworking parents who feel they have little choice but to rely on cars. But where alternatives don’t exist, it’s up to us all to demand them: walking and cycling groups, car shares, and most of all safer, cleaner streets.

A dad, dropping his young daughter off at school, opened his car door into me as I cycled to work down Eton Avenue two years ago. Despite the fact he’d committed a traffic offence against a vulnerable road user, he flew into a temper and threatened me in front of this poor shocked kid; only later, through his insurers, did he admit fault. And no wonder: he was stressed and anxious and filled with adrenaline and all those things were compounded by the presence of his young child. And I’m pretty sure that version of her dad is what she’ll remember of that morning long after he’s forgotten the whole thing.